Mr. Morris to Mr. Seward

No. 110.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit copies of a correspondence between his Highness Ali Pacha, minister of foreign affairs, and myself, relative to certain charges preferred by him against the American missionaries, and also a communication from the Rev. George Washburn, secretary of the American Board of Missions at Constantinople, upon the same subject.

A telegram of the 5th of April, from New York, was received here on the 16th instant, announcing the capture of Richmond and Petersburg, and the great victories of General Grant, which accompanied this glorious achievement. [Page 284] The news created intense excitement, particularly among the commercial classes, and is regarded by all as a forerunner of peace and the re-establishment of the American Union in its pristine vigor. This event, and the victories of General Sherman which preceded it, have created a most salutary impression in relation to the strength of the government of the United States, and its ability to defend itself against domestic or foreign aggression. Never was the United States more feared and respected than it is now, in Europe, and never did our form of government more signally vindicate its self-sustaining power. The administration of President Lincoln extorts, even from its former most implacable enemies, the highest eulogies for its skill, energy, and consummate sagacity and wisdom with which it has conducted this gigantic war for the preservation of the Union.

To none, however, has this news of the successes of our arms given more gratification than to the members of the cabinet of the Sultan, who now, as during the whole progress of the war, have never failed to manifest their sympathy with the Union cause, and their wishes for its triumph. As I have related in previous despatches, the Sultan has himself personally, to me, before the diplomatic corps, on several occasions, given expression to similar sentiments.

I have been accustomed to say to foreigners that the maintenance of the Union was not exclusively an American question. It is one which interests man kind at large as much as ourselves, and, in pouring out our blood and treasure for its defence, we are only fighting a battle for the interests of universal humanity. Its overthrow would be a disastrous check to modern progress, while its maintenance upholds a government that stands as a pillar of light to guide mankind to the redemption of its usurped rights, and to encourage it in its struggles with those rulers who use power to found dynasties on the oppression of the masses.

This is the light in which the American question is regarded by all on this side of the Atlantic who have really any sympathy with the welfare of the human race, and the day is not distant when the United States, rising, phœnixlike, with renewed strength from the flames of war, will exercise a greater moral power over the civilized world than any of the great states of Europe.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

Mr. Washburn to Mr. Morris

Sir: I beg to acknowledge, with thanks, the receipt of yours of this morning’s date, with a copy of a despatch from his Highness Ali Pacha, of the 2d instant.

As it is plain that his Highness has been completely misinformed in regard to the relations of the American missionaries to the Protestant Christian community, it seems most desirable that I should state to you, briefly, but frankly, what these relations have been and now are.

His Highness himself cannot be more firmly persuaded than we are that foreign missionaries ought not to meddle with the civil affairs of this empire. We neither claim nor desire any such right. We are well aware that, should we meddle in civil or political affairs, we must identify ourselves with some personal or party interests, and thus destroy our proper influence as Christian teachers. We have, therefore, never sought to control the Protestant community, nor even to give advice, except when our advice has been formally asked. We have often collected from friends pecuniary aid from the community, but only when it has been officially asked for, and even then the money has been given under protest.

When this community was formed, in 1850, the Protestants were very few in number, and very poor. When Stepan Effendi was appointed their vehil, they were utterly unable to pay his salary, or even any great part of it. Under these circumstances they appealed to us, and we consented to become responsible for one year. We collected the money and paid the expenses, but distinctly disclaimed any desire to control the action of the vehil. From that day to this we: have not ceased to urge upon the people the necessity of paying [Page 285] their tales regularly. For some ten years we aided them every year with funds collected from friends, but about five years ago we gave them final and formal notice that we could furnish them with no more money, as we wished to have no connexion with their civil affairs.

Stepan Effendi, however, failing to understand the necessity of such action on our part, demanded that his salary should be paid in full by the missionaries; if it were not, he should cease to perform the duties of his office. “We, of course, refused to do this, and continued to urge upon the people the necessity of supporting their chancery themselves.

Since that time, during these five years, the Protestant community has been almost destroyed by the efforts of Stepan Effendi to compel the missionaries to become responsible for his salary. Much of the time the business of the office has been neglected, and the people, suffering bitter wrong on this account, have refused to pay their taxes to him.

Some three years ago, however, he agreed to adopt a certain plan, proposed by the council of the nation, on condition of receiving arrears of salary. At the request of the Protestant council, the sum necessary was raised by the American and English missionaries; but, no sooner had he received the money, than, apparently under the influence of some evil adviser, he violated his word, and overturned the whole arrangement. Much of the time since that date his office has been closed.

But about three months ago Stepan Effendi came, naslied of his own accord, to several individuals, saying, “I wish very much to resign. I am old. I need my arrears of salary, and I wish to leave my post honorably. I beg you to see if there is no way to raise the money to pay me my dues. If it could be raised, I would gladly secure the appointment of some one else in my place. After this was finished I would take my money.”

These persons came to me, and it appeared that the time had come when all the troubles of the community could be cleared away, once for all, by a friendly arrangement, equally pleasing to all parties.

I therefore replied: if all parties desire this, and request it, I think for once more, for a final settlement, I can find the money; but you must arrange it among yourselves.

They did arrange it fully among themselves. Stepan Effendi wrote a note to the notables of the community, of which the following is a translation:

“February 6, 1865.

Beloved Brethren: You are already well acquainted with the present condition of the Protestant chancery. I cannot endure that condition any longer. My debts are daily increasing, and in my present advanced stage of life I am in great distress. I therefore appeal to your brotherly kindness, that you would kindly undertake to deliver me from this condition, I inform you that I am ready to resign my office, and in my old age to retire to private life, if my claims upon the treasury are paid. “With love,


It was agreed by these notables that he should ask the appointment of Boghos Effendi, of Adrianople, in his place, as temporary caunaham, until the people could nominate some one to the Porte as permanent vehil.

Under these circumstances I was willing to advance the money necessary to secure this object, provided these changes could be actually accomplished before the money was paid, This was necessary, not from any desire on our part to control the Protestant community, but because Stepan Effendi had before violated his word under similar circumstances, and because I had the distinct declaration of the friends in England and America who had formally aided the community that they would not advance another para to the Protestant community until its affairs had been finally and satisfactorily arranged.

Stepan Effendi had proposed this condition in the first place. He still agreed to it, but he now insisted that the promise in respect to the money should be given to him in writing by a rayah. He suggested Mr. Haritun Minassian as satisfactory to him. Although this person had no connexion with and no interest in this money, he consented to act as a mutual friend in an arrangement which was certainly not less desirable for Stepan Effendi than for the community. The following papers were exchanged between them:

[Translation of a paper given by Stepan Effendi to Haritun.]

February 15, 1865.

“I have summed up the claims of myself and Moses, my secretary, to February 28, 1865, The amount is 77, 125 piastres. Of this I shall receive in gold 55,000 piasters, when, after having resigned my office, I shall have established Boghos Effendi as temporary caunaham of the Protestant community in my place, by order of the Porte. For 18,125 piasters I am to receive two bonds from Minassian Haritun, the printer. I am to receive a certificate for 21,000 piasters more, by which I can obtain this sum from the nation, and pay it to Ghazairs, as borrowed of him by me.

“STEPAN SEROPIAN, “Vehil of the Protestant Community.”

[Page 286]

[Translation of a paper given by Mr. Haritun to Stepan Effendi.]

“February 15, 1865.

“The subject of this paper is to state that on the 20th of Ramazan 1281, 55,000 piasters in coin, and two bonds—one for 9,237½ piasters, the other for 8,887½ piasters—in a bag, with Stepan Aghasscal, have been deposited with me, in behalf of the nation, and are in my possession, as a pledge for the claims of Stepan Effendi, Protestant vehil, and his secretary, Moses, for balanee of salaries due them; subject to the agreement, that whenever, within six months from to-day, Stepan Effendi shall have resigned his office, and shall have caused Boghos Effendi, of Adrianople, to be appointed in his place, the 55,000 piastres and the two bonds in my possession shall, without fail, be delivered to him by me. If this agreement be not carried out, and the six months shall pass, then this money shall be restored to the individuals who have given it to me, and this paper will be void.


As Stepan Effendi expressed the wish to see and count this money and put his seal on the bag, he came to my office and did so, knowing that if the arrangements were complied with, this moniuy money was to be furnished by friends in England and America, as a free gift, to relieve the Protestant community of its embarrassments, and from all need of further aid.

That the money might be perfectly safe until Stepan Effendi had fulfilled the above conditions, I returned it to my safe whence it came, and gave to Mr. Haritun the following bond as security to him:

Constantinople, February—, ——.

“Received from Haritun Minassian, printer, a deposit of 625 napoleons, (sealed by Stepan Effendi,) to be delivered to him whenever Stepan Effendi shall resign, and secure the appointment of Bogos Agha, of Adrianople, in his place as head of the Protestant community, provided that this be accomplished within six months of the above date. After that date this paper will have no value.


Up to this time it was supposed that Stepan Effendi was acting in good faith, as the arrangement had been originally proposed by him, and he had all along expressed his full satisfaction with it.

But it would appear that in his old age he must have become a tool in the hands of bad men, for, having secured the above bond from Mr. Haritun, he suddenly changed his mind, and declared that he had no intention of fulfilling these conditions of his own making, but would take the money in spite of us, without resigning at all. He declared in our bookstore that his Highness Ali Pacha had united with him to destroy the Protestant community, and drive the missionaries from the country. Of course this was as false as possible, and he appears to have told his Highness equally false stories in reference to us.

Stepan Effendi has since instituted the most oppressive and vexatious proceedings against Mr. Haritun, who is thus suffering as a perfectly innocent man for an act of friendship. If there has been any wrong done he has not done it. It rests either upon Stepan Effendi or upon me. I leave it to your judgment to decide between us.

His Highness Ali Pacha refers especially to a supposed purpose of ours to make a public demonstration against Stepan Effendi. I am happy to be able to assure you that his Highness has been deceived in this matter. We have never so much as dreamed of such a thing, and we consequently deny the charge as totally unfounded. The particular meeting to which he seems to refer, the only one I have heard of, was not planned by any missionary, nor was any foreigner present at it or in any way connected with it. We knew nothing of the meeting until we were informed by the Protestant notables that they had decided to hold such a meeting in the church in Stambool.

I am sure that if these facts are made known to his Highness he will rejoice in the opportunity of withdrawing the charge which he has been led, by incorrect information, to make against us.

It is our purpose so to conduct ourselves in this country, where we live under the august protection of his imperial Majesty the Sultan, that the Turkish authorities can have no occasion for complaint against us. We should regard any unfriendly controversy with the Porte as a positive calamity.

With your permission I shall send a copy of this letter to the Hon. Mr. Stuart, her Britannic Majesty’s chargé d’affaires at the Porte, with whom also his Highness Ali Pacha communicated in reference to this question.

I remain, my dear sir, in behalf of the American missionaries, your most humble and obedient servant,

[Page 287]


Sir: The Sublime Porte has just been informed that certain foreign missionaries are seeking to assemble the members of the American Protestant community with the view of causing a change of the civil organ of this community.

I need not remark to you, sir, that the interference of foreign priests in the affairs of a community exclusively composed of subjects of his Majesty the Sultan cannot be allowed by the Sublime Porte, and the object, purely civil or temporal, in question, can only be settled by the sole intervention of the authority of the country. Consequently I have to beg you, sir, to be so good as to recommend to the American Protestant missionaries to refrain from meddling with this question.

Accept, sir, the assurance of my highest consideration.


Mr. Morris, Minister Resident of the United States of America.

Mr. Morris to Mr. Washburn

Dear Sir: I have the honor to enclose to you herewith a copy of a communication which I have received from the Sublime Porte on the subject of foreign Protestant missionaries in general, and the American in particular.

With much respect, your obedient servant,


Rev. George Washburn, Pera.


Sir; I have the honor to reply to your note of the 2d instant, relative to certain alleged proceedings of the American missionaries, and to enclose a communication from the Rev. George Washburn, on the subject.

The facts related in this paper exonerate the American missionaries from the charges preferred against them, and I hope they will be accepted by your Highness as a satisfactory refutation of the accusations of their enemies.

I avail myself of this occasion to renew to your Highness the assurance of my perfect consideration.


His Highness Ali Pacha, Minister of Foreign Affairs,